The Rise & Fall of Bernie Gripplestone and the Rats from Hull

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Both sides of their two mid-1960s singles, and six previously unreleased tracks laid down in approximately 1967-69, form the bulk of this archival release. The Rats didn't have an original bone in their body, but nonetheless this is enjoyable period British R&B/rock fare. Of the mid-sixties cuts, their version of "Spoonful" is pretty lean and mean, and the "House of the Rising Sun"-derived "New Orleans" is nicely moody. Mick Ronson isn't on any of those, but his presence is evident on the late-sixties material, particularly "Guitar Boogie," clearly modeled on the Yardbirds' "Jeff's Boogie," and reaching a manic sped-up tempo at the end which verges on parody. The title track is pretty indulgent 1967 psychedelia, but the hard rock covers of Gladys Knight's "Stop Get a Hold of Myself" and the folkie favorite "Morning Dew" are actually quite respectable, even if they're obviously using the Jeff Beck Group approach as the template. Only three of the ten sixties tracks were group originals, and they were none too impressive, helping doom them to also-ran status in the pre-Bowie years. Tacked onto the end are two numbers by a reconstituted Rats at a 1994 memorial concert for Ronson, as well as three horrendous hard rock studio tracks from 1998. It's certainly a release that only appeals to the hardcore fanatic. Yet it's not without its appeal, particularly as it comes with incredibly extensive liner notes about the Rats and their members' involvement in early David Bowie projects that will make fascinating reading for Bowie and Ronson nuts.

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